How to save your cold stored food when power goes out

milk-cartonRegardless of where you live, you have likely experienced a power outage due to a major storm and quite possibly also lost some foods as a result.  With a little bit of preparation and absolutely no cost you can save all that food (or at least most of it), and all you need is water, and some empty containers to hold the water.  It is no secret that frozen items help to keep each other frozen, and the more of them you have together, the longer they will stay frozen together, so all you need to do is be sure your freezer is full and ideally have additional ice on hand to prolong things.

The method that works best for me is saving gallon milk jugs (screw tops work best).  I rinse them out with soap and water, then fill 2/3 of the way with water and put them in my freezers.  I keep them there to fill up any available space to keep the freezer full. This practice is something I do regularly as it has benefits not only when power is out. Having the frozen milk jugs will in the end keep the freezer running cooler and so it takes less power to keep everything cold.  If you are having a party and need to keep a cooler of drinks cold, no need for buying bagged ice, just stick a couple milk jugs in. Ice luge for hard alcohol? No problem, cut the milk jug from the ice and done.

Now let’s say you just did a major stock-up on frozen goods and need the space of those jugs, just take them out and stick them off to the side, if it is winter, put them outside to keep them frozen or colder at the least. As space in the freezer is freed up to consumption, place the jugs back in.

Yes it is really that simple, but that is the freezer, what to do about the refrigerator?

Well chances are you know the storm is coming, so have spare jugs on hand to freeze.  Rotate them out of the freezer and into the refrigerator to maximize the amount of ice you have on hand.  When the power goes out, you are good to go.  Just be sure to not leave the fridge door open for long, retrieve what you need and close it back up as quickly as possible.  Refrigerators and freezers and pretty well insulated, so as long as they are closed, then tend to retain the cold air for quite some time, adding blocks of ice simply prolongs that.

A few years ago, we were nailed with a freak snow storm in October which left much of Connecticut without power for over a week.  By using the method described above (and one extra trick that works only for snow storms, more to come…) the only food I lost to not having power was ice cream and that is only because I wasn’t able to eat the 3 gallons I had, one was tossed.  Now if you are fortunate enough that the storm taking power out is a snow storm there is one extra step you can take to prolong the life of your food, use the snow to your advantage.  In my case, I removed everything from the refrigerator drawers then packed the drawers with snow then put back in the fridge.  As snow melts over the next couple days, just dump the drawer and refill.  For the freezer you will likely get more time out of the snow, but just take any empty container that will hold snow and pack it up, then place in the freezer.  The more you pack in, the colder everything will be and the longer it will remain cold.  Pack that fridge full with every Tupperware container and bowl you own if you are expecting long-term outages.

 

 

 

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